How to Make Your Bad Feelings Work For YouNone By Derrick Carpenter
If we were to design a Happify mascot, we’d probably start a big debate over what represents happiness the best. Something cuddly? Energetic? Peaceful? Or kind? What wouldn’t come up in that brainstorming session are a whole lot of negative emotion words. Grumpy. Disappointed. Filled with guilt. Bad feelings—otherwise known as negative emotions by psychology researchers—aren’t what we typically associate with happiness. They're often uncomfortable to experience and many of us take purposeful steps to avoid or deny them when we do.
All emotions, though, are natural signals for us to pay attention to something. Think about it: we don’t get angry without some sort of stimulus. We only feel that rage when someone violates our rights or those of our loved ones, and the resulting anger helps us protect ourselves.
The ancestors we evolved from relied on these kinds of negative emotions in order to stay alive. When a saber-toothed tiger stalked past their cave, the immediate anxiety that led them to run and hide is the reason they survived. In today's world, negative emotions aren't necessarily a bad thing—they can direct our focus towards problems we need to solve, improve our performance, and build our compassion.
But too much of a bad thing is, well, not fun at all. Many of us experience negative emotions too much and our ability to function optimally suffers.
Here are four major categories of negative emotions and some tips for helping you to